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Sheriff Formally Charged with Misdemeanor Driving While Intoxicated

 By Echo Menges 

Scotland County Sheriff Bryan Whitney, 44, of Memphis, MO, was officially charged with one count of misdemeanor driving while intoxicated on Friday, March 15, 2024, in Scotland County case No. 24SE-CR00006. The charge stems from an arrest of the off-duty law enforcement officer by the Missouri State Highway Patrol on September 29, 2023. The criminal filing comes more than five months after the initial arrest. 

Now that a criminal case has been brought against Whitney by Special Prosecutor David Goring, court documents have been filed detailing the arrest, which are open to the public. 

According to the Probable Cause (PC) Statement filed in the case, Whitney was allegedly observed driving a white Chevrolet truck 67 miles per hour in a 60-mile-per-hour zone and traveling off the right side of the roadway while eastbound on Highway 136 in Scotland County. Whitney was pulled over west of Scotland County Road 610. 

“Based on my observations of Whitney, his inability to maintain his vehicle on the roadway, his admission to drinking, the strong odor of intoxicants emanating from his person, his performance on field sobriety tests, and a PBT (portable/ preliminary breath test) reading of 0.093% blood alcohol concentration by weight, I determined Whitney was impaired and was unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. At 2145 hours (9:45 p.m.), I arrested Whitney for driving while intoxicated. Whitney was transported to the Schuyler County Jail,” said the arresting officer in the PC Statement. 

The PC Statement continues, “I read Whitney the Missouri implied consent warning and requested he submit to a chemical test of his breath. Whitney refused to submit to the requested chemical test of his breath. A sample of Whitney’s blood was collected under the authority of a Schuyler County search warrant. Whitney’s blood was submitted to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory for blood-alcohol analysis. Laboratory results are pending.” 

The traffic stop was recorded by the “patrol issued in-car camera system”, which is stated in the PC Statement. 

“We maintain that the Sheriff was not intoxicated and we plan on vigorously challenging the charge,” Whitney’s Attorney Travis Noble told the Memphis Democrat. “After reading the Probable Cause Statement, it calls into question the methods of the Trooper – that either he did not perform all of the standardized field sobriety tests or the Sheriff passed the test.” 

Noble is challenging the field sobriety tests administered and the PBT reading arguing that blood alcohol levels can increase over time, and it’s possible Whitney was not over the legal limit while driving his vehicle. 

“If he’s off duty and he’s only a point .05 he’s not breaking any law. The indication would be that if he’s a .09 at the point of the breath test, we think we can show, at the time of driving, he was under the legal limit,” said Noble. “The officer indicated he only had four of the six clues (from the field sobriety tests). It would indicate he was not out of the legal limit.” 

Noble is also representing Whitney in case No. 23SE-CC00034, which is a lawsuit brought by Whitney against the Missouri Director of Revenue (DOR) to fight the automatic one-year revocation of Whitney’s Missouri Driver’s License for allegedly refusing to submit to the chemical test during the DWI arrest. That case is scheduled for a Bench Trial on May 21 before Adair County Associate Circuit Judge Kristie Swaim. 

Swaim was assigned to the Whitney vs. DOR lawsuit by the Missouri Supreme Court after Scotland County Associate Circuit Judge Kimberly Nicoli recused herself from the case due to a conflict of interest. 

Scotland County Prosecutor April Wilson also recused herself from prosecuting Whitney for DWI and the Whitney vs. DOR case for the same reason. Former law enforcement officer and current Adair County Prosecutor David Goring was assigned to both cases involving Whitney. 

According to court documents, Whitney has been summoned to appear in court for an initial appearance on the DWI charge before Judge Nicoli at the Scotland County courthouse on Tuesday morning, April 16. 

Bryan Whitney is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in court.